Posted: Sunday December 19, 1999 10:07 PM
OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- After hearing about the vaunted defense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throughout the week, Napolean Kaufman and Tyrone Wheatley had no problems slicing through it at will.
Meanwhile, Lance Johnstone, Darrell Russell and Russell Maryland led a defense which posted its first shutout in seven years and the Oakland Raiders rolled to a 45-0 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who absorbed the worst loss in the franchise's 24-year history.
Kaufman and Wheatley combined to rush for 233 yards and four touchdowns against a defense which was ranked second in the NFL against the run.
"I think a lot was made of their defense and rightfully so, but no one really said anything about our offense," said Raiders coach Jon Gruden. "We have as many first downs as anyone in football. We have been moving the ball extremely well in the air and on the ground. I thought our backs ran hard and complemented each other."
The Raiders (7-7) kept alive their playoff hopes and snapped Tampa Bay's six-game winning streak, also a franchise record.
Despite the loss, the Buccaneers (9-5) remained in sole possession of first place in the NFC Central, one game ahead of Detroit, which lost at Chicago.
"We haven't been in many like this, but they have a very talented football team," said Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy. "We let them get ahead of us and they kind of steamrolled us from there."
Kaufman, who had his role reduced this season by Gruden, produced 122 yards on just eight carries and broke off scoring runs of 75 and 17 yards.
"We did a great job, especially on the offensive line," Kaufman said. "What more can you say. We had planned to run the ball and we did. It was just a great game."
Wheatley, signed to handle the workload, rushed for 111 yards on 19 carries and also had a pair of touchdowns, including a 30-yarder.
"We've had some games where we could have produced like this," Wheatley said. "To date it's the best, but I think we could have done this all year."
Johnstone scored on a 13-yard fumble return and Russell and Maryland dominated the line of scrimmage as the Raiders held Tampa Bay to a season-low 34 yards rushing. Overall, the Raiders had a huge edge in total yardage, 400-137 and the Bucs were 0-for-12 in third-down conversions.
"We didn't show up today," said Bucs safety John Lynch. "We have to be on guard that this loss doesn't shake our confidence because we still know we're a good football team."
The Raiders' last shutout was a 19-0 win at Seattle on October 18, 1992.
"It's hard to shut anybody out in this league," Gruden said. "I attribute that to the high effort level our defense gave in this game."
It was the first loss for Tampa Bay under rookie quarterback Shaun King, who led the Bucs to back-to-back home wins over Minnesota and Detroit to put them into sole possession of first place.
Today, King completed 17-of-29 passes for 142 yards with an interception and committed a fumble in the face of a pass rush which led to Johnstone's touchdown. He was sacked four times.
"We came out here and ran into a good Oakland team and it showed," King said. "They had an answer for everything we tried to do today. I thought we were prepared. Today was one of those days."
Tampa Bay's duo of Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott was held to 17 yards on 14 carries.
Oakland set the tone on the game's opening drive, marching 84 yards in nine plays. Wheatley broke off runs of 15 and 10 yards and Rich Gannon capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Tim Brown 3:58 into the game.
Gannon completed 15-of-26 for 141 yards with no turnovers.
Joe Nedney's 26-yard field goal with 1:58 left in the first quarter increased Oakland's lead to 10-0. Gannon completed 5-of-7 passes for 42 yards to set up the field goal.
Wheatley broke off a 30-yard TD run with 3:51 left in the half after Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson recovered a fumble by Alstott.
Oakland's defense again came up with a big play early in the second half. In the face of a fierce pass rush, King lost control of the ball and Johnstone recovered the fumble and returned it 13 yards for a score 1:42 into the third quarter.
"I got it by default because I ran by the quarterback," Johnstone said. "I just saw the ball pop out and I picked it up and ran it in."
Kaufman scored on a 17-yard run and Wheatley added a three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to open a 38-0 bulge for Oakland.
Kaufman's 75-yard TD run 4:13 into the fourth quarter was the longest of the season for the Raiders and completed the rout.
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